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Fahrenheit 9/11

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Michael Moore's latest film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," presents a critical look at the administration of George W. Bush and the War on Terrorism. In this film Moore investigates the rapid growth of the United States government and its trend of trampling the rights of individuals, and the corporatism that is spawned out of the close ties between big government and big business during wartime. Michael Moore may not convince all audiences, but is successful for its factual accuracy in which the evidence spoke for itself, and at the same time proclaimed Moore's artistry in transposing and splicing scenes to create impressions that supported his allegations and opinions. Michael Moore has employed two main techniques in an attempt to successfully influence his audience; psychological means of strategy, and cinematic techniques of persuasion. These methods, coupled with how they are presented to the audience, and how the audience react, are what Moore uses to create a scheming effect.

Humor and emotional appeals is what Moore has used in Fahrenheit 9/11 to aid the effect of persuasion. For humor, Moore reaches for an 'ad populum' with his audience, looking to exert his opinion as a justification for his claim. An example can be with the Florida election, where Moore has used a fast tempo background piece of music. This sounds much like a stereotypical 'hillbilly/country' song; which can be related to Bush's southern US state background. This music has several functions, including helping Moore's rapid delivery of facts, but in this case it illustrates Moore's opinion of the nature of the election - that it can be seen as some sort of 'joke'. By providing a taunt at Bush's background, Moore has given the audience humor. Comedy makes these messages more effective as it increases the liking for the source [Moore], and the choice of humor might illustrate a shared sense of hilarity that hints at a similar set of underlying ideas that the audience hold.

In "Fahrenheit 9/11" Moore specifically uses anger as his primary emotion in order to persuade the audience, the anger of Lila Lipscomb, whose son died whilst in combat duty in Iraq. Moore's interview with Lila Lipscomb provides an insight into the pain felt by families whose children had died during the war in Iraq. Moore presents the audience with the nature of Lipscomb's anger directed at the Bush Administration, and the cause of the emotion - that her son died in a war which was 'based on lies'. The scene of Lipscomb breaking into tears provides an empathetic reaction from the audience further strengthening Moore's persuasion techniques.

Moore uses emotion to move the audience and this was intensely effective when the screen goes entirely black and the audience is left the soundtrack of the tragic events of September 11 plays and imposes an insistent presence of cries, sirens and radio communications. This is followed by the image of New Yorkers terrified by the inexpressible horror of the collapse of the towers. Moore keeps only the faces, contorted with tension and fear. The terrible reverse shot of this scene, certainly known and engraved in all memories. The director does not believe in the simple force of the image. The audience is already conquered upstream. This emblematic sequence gives the general tone of the documentary.

In addition to using pathos to get the audience' attention Moore also makes extensive use of rhetorical questions during "Fahrenheit 9/11,"to create a negative representation of George W Bush. For example, during the classroom scene on September 11th, while Bush sits quietly, contemplating the attacks, Moore poses whether Bush should "have held at least one meeting since taking office to discuss the threat of terrorist" (Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11). Immediately this implies that Bush hasn't had a meeting on terrorism since taking office in 2001, providing the audience with a disapproving outlook on Bush's image.

Repetition is used several times during the film as it is a fairly easy method to manipulate the audience. Moore's section of "Fahrenheit 9/11" devoted to Afghanistan shows clips of Bush repeatedly saying "We'll smoke 'em out" (Bush, Fahrenheit9/11). The concept behind this is to emphasize Bush's militaristic policies concerning Afghanistan, suggesting that Bush is only concerned with conflict. The repetition of these messages work for an obvious reason; as Moore repeats a message over and over, the audience comprehend and understand it quicker than just saying the message once.

The repetition techniques Moore uses extends to more than just speech. In the chapter concerning Bush's connections with the bin Laden family and other prominent Saudi's, Moore has placed several scenes of important members of the Bush Administration meeting with Saudi officials, with the absence of speech and a backing track of REM's Shiny Happy People, in an attempt to smear Bush's reputation. The audience is constantly exposed to the particular scenes. Moore purposely does this to reinforce the message as well as to win the audience' confidence in him.

While much of the film persuasion techniques rely on touching scenes, Moore has also employed cinematic techniques of persuasion to aid and solidify his stance. These cinematic techniques of cinematography and sound enhance Moore's argument within the film. Throughout Fahrenheit 9/11 are numerous scenes which, due to the placement of certain images and sounds, create an effect on the audience. Moore also juxtaposes contrasting images to create a clear understanding of the differences between them. One instance of this is when he presents the audience with scenes from Baghdad in March 2003 before the invasion began. The essence of this is to create an environment that the audience are familiar with, a peaceful place with children playing and so forth. The next set of scenes, the US warplanes bombing several sites in Baghdad, disrupts this environment that Moore has created for the audience. This demands sympathy from the audience, which is to be delivered to the habitants of Baghdad. This juxtaposition of images works well because the audience are purposely led to witness that the US was striking residential areas. This once again highlights Moore's ability to use a polemic piece of information, and anchor it to his own advantage.

Sound clips are one of the features that Moore used to enhance his method of persuasion.



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